Published on: 10:03AM Jan 29, 2013
From Legacy Moment (01/25/2013).
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What might be misinterpreted as criticism is really intended as a wake-up call. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently said that 'Rural America, with a shrinking population, is becoming less and less relevant..." This warning from an informed government official might be disconcerting, especially given that he represents you, your industry and your livelihood. But in this case, he was specifically referring to political sway with government programs.
He suggests (and I agree) that, "We need a proactive message, not a reactive message." Continuing on, he poses a good question: "How are you going to encourage young people to want to be involved in rural America or farming if you don't have a proactive message?" But given the reality of the situation, the question should be rephrased. In my experience, it's not a matter of encouraging young people, but of giving them the things they need to succeed.
The young people I know are motivated and preparing to assume leadership roles on farms and in rural communities across the U.S. Our challenge is establishing the right tools and assembling adequate resources to create the paths for those who will follow. Though big and imposing, the government does not source solutions. We as citizens, business owners and community leaders can make a difference.
As I've mentioned before, rural America is the "next frontier." It is a place of great opportunity. Consumers are demanding a different relationship with their food and food providers. They want to know where it comes from, who produces it and how it's grown. They want food sources that provide healthy choices for all. As awareness grows and demands increase, local foods might comprise a significant proportion of our diet. That demand represents farming opportunities for aspiring agripreneurs and rural lifestyle choices for young families.
News & Resources for You:
"As more move to the city, does rural America still matter?" (from USA Today, Jan. 13, 2013)
Find your best fit in the farming community.
In designing your business plan, be sure to consider potential strengths and weaknesses.